GLENDALE — Evacuations of homes west of Glendale began earlier Saturday because of fires in the Douglas Complex.
All 45 homes west of McCullough Creek Road and south to Reuben Road were being evacuated.
As of Saturday evening, residents at 30 homes east of McCullough Creek Road to the mill west of Glendale were being asked to prepare for possible evacuation.
Angie Johnson, the public information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 2, said residents in Glendale proper were not being evacuated as of Saturday night.
It is estimated about 10,000 acres have been burned between all the fires in the Douglas Complex. Johnson said crews have yet to determine containment. Lightning Friday morning ignited the series of wildfires.
The ODF management team assumed command of the complex Saturday morning. A majority of the fires are west of Glendale in the Cow Creek Canyon. Johnson said upward of 40 20-person crews are fighting the flames. She expects 2,000 people will be part of the effort by this evening.
American Red Cross volunteers from Roseburg, Medford and Portland arrived in Glendale Saturday evening, setting up a base at the junior high/elementary school from which to provide services. Volunteers were at first concerned for their safety due to the closeness to the fire. But Dennis Moore of Roseburg said fire crews notified American Red Cross that they were not in any danger.
The Douglas Forest Protective Association increased the fire danger to “extreme” for the Douglas District effective Saturday due to dry fuels, weather and the current fire danger.
“Everyone needs to be careful when working or recreating in wild land areas,” DFPA Fire Prevention Specialist Kyle Reed said. “The current conditions around Douglas County are prime for rapid fire growth.”
In addition to the Glendale and Cow Creek Canyon fires, there are also several fires in the Milo area. The DFPA said blazes range from less than an acre up to several hundred acres in size. No homes or other structures are currently threatened by the Milo fires.
Weather officials fear the weekend’s gusty wind and low humidity will hurt firefighting efforts.
“The fires have been very active since they began, and they are burning very hot,” Ryan Sandler, National Weather Service meteorologist, said Saturday. “The conditions are dry, the fields are dry, the humidity is low, and we are expecting some gusty winds this afternoon and tomorrow. I think they are going to have their hands full trying to contain the fires this weekend.”
Sandler said wind gusts could be as much as 20 to 25 mph and coming from the north and northwest. The wind direction will likely keep smoke away from Roseburg and push it toward Medford and into Northern California, he said.
While evacuations were not in effect within city limits, many residents, including Kayrene Kimber decided to leave anyway. Kimber loaded up belongings and pets and headed to Azalea Saturday night.
“I am taking my clothes, cat food, dog food and pictures,” she said.
Her neighbor, Wilma Lane, has her belongings packed in case conditions worsen.
“My friend was evacuated. She said she took everything but the chickens,” Lane said. “We are going to go somewhere, out of here away from the fire. I have never had a fire this close to me in my life. It’s scary.”
Brandi Wytcherley and her family own a 115-acre Christmas tree farm on Reuben Road they evacuated Saturday.
“We could see the fire from our house,” she said.
Wytcherley’s sister, Sadie Emond of Grants Pass, came to help her family pack. The registered nurse said she also brought medical supplies in the event there was an emergency caused by the blaze.
The women and their mother, Peggy Ewing, stood on a street corner in Glendale looking at photos taken earlier of the fire and discussing what was happening.
“It’s surrounded by fire,” an emotional Ewing said about the tree farm. “There was a lot of hot ash coming down from the sky this afternoon.”
Ewing said she could see trees explode from the house porch.
“It looked like Roman candles going up,” she said. “Hopefully they get a handle on it.”
Many residents said the town hasn’t dealt with a fire like this in decades.
“We’ve seen a lot of things here, but not a fire this close,” City Councilor Pauline Eells said.
• You can reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at email@example.com.
We’ve seen a lot of things here, but not a fire this close.
Glendale City Councilor